Letter from the Chair

Kathleen Fisher

Dear Friends,

I became chair of the Department of Computer Science on September 1, 2016. I am honored to serve in this role, and I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni to provide for the continued health and vibrant growth of the department. The faculty and students in the department have been busy teaching, researching, and learning!

I would like to thank Professor Soha Hassoun for her three years of dedicated service as chair. She will enjoy a well-deserved sabbatical in the spring. During her tenure as chair, Soha oversaw the addition of a lecturer, two tenure-track faculty members, and Tufts’ first Bridge Professor. She also worked to strengthen alumni relations, growing the computer science young alumni group. In the coming year, Soha is co-developing a teaching a new special topics course on the internet of things (IoT) with Associate Professor Mark Hempstead in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Most importantly, Soha nurtured the department through three years of explosive growth in the student body, which resulted in Computer Science becoming the largest major on campus.

An on-going challenge for the department has been to meet this rising student demand for computer science courses and degrees. In 2016, 141 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science (34 in Engineering and 107 in Arts and Sciences); 22 students with a master’s degree; and six with a doctorate. As of spring 2016, we have 449 undergraduates working towards a bachelor’s degree (164 in Engineering and 285 in Arts and Sciences). In addition, we have 63 students minoring in computer science. We are happy to report that 11 new master’s and 15 new Ph.D. students are joining the department this fall. Despite the challenges of teaching so many students, the department continues to provide high-quality learning experiences.

To cope with the high level of student demand, we have been working to grow the size of the faculty and to increase the number and training of undergraduates who work as teaching assistants. Early this summer, we welcomed two new members to the faculty. JP de Ruiter is the university’s first Bridge Professor, with a joint appointment in the Departments of Psychology and Computer Science, and Laney Strange has joined us as a lecturer. Please join me in welcoming JP and Laney to the department!

In other faculty news, Remco Chang became a tenured member of the faculty and Donna Slonim was promoted to full professor. On a sad note, Chris Gregg has left us to take a position as a lecturer in the Computer Science Department at Stanford. We will miss Chris enormously—his calm efficiency, his clarity, and his enthusiasm—but wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Finally, we’d love to hear from all alumni. Please send This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it an e-mail and let us know how you are doing. We want to know what you are up to post-Tufts and Halligan Hall!

Kathleen Fisher, Professor and Chair
Department of Computer Science
Tufts University